Prominent researchers and scientists from 12 countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Spain, France, Austria, Sweden, Italy, Great Britain, Greece, Bulgaria, Japan and the United States in the fields of cell biology, epigenetics, genetics, neurobiology, neuropathology and bioinformatics, discussed topics related to brain development from embryonic stage to an adult individual, brain ageing and cell regeneration processes, recovery of the human brain after damage such as stroke, etc. The significant scientific forum “Black Sea Neurogenesis”, which took place between 1st-3rd June 2023 in Albena Resort, was organised for a consecutive year by Medical University-Varna, with the support of the National Programme “European Scientific Networks” of the Ministry of Education and Science, and the TRANSTEM project of the European Commission.
“The forum is unique because two basic concepts were intertwined – of the mechanisms of brain development before birth and of brain plasticity in adults after damage. All such forums, which have been organised among the world’s scientific fields, lay emphasis only on one of these two concepts. It is of crucial importance that scientists working in these fields directly exchange experience and opinions in a common forum. This is how new ideas are born due to the fact that these mechanisms in both cases have repeatability in their molecular connections, and in how the different signal pathways work,” explained Prof. Dr. Anton Tonchev, Director of the Research Institute at MU-Varna and scientific organiser of the forum.
Within the diverse scientific programme, divided into two main sections – neurogenesis during the development and neurogenesis in adults, the scientists focused their efforts on seeking solutions for treating ischemic stroke, brain tumours, degenerative diseases through finding new facts on neurogenesis processes. Neurogenesis is defined as the formation of new neurons from stem cells that begins during the embryonic development and leads to the formation of approximately 70 billion nerve cells. Neurogenesis continues into and throughout adult life in discrete regions. Scientists are interested in the molecular mechanisms of this formation in pursuit of understanding the way they can influence this process with a view to developing new therapies.
The experts agreed on the idea that alternative strategies for brain regeneration and spontaneous functional recovery after an ischemic stroke ought to be found, in addition to the presently known rehabilitation. This can be achieved through supporting the cortex with new cells that can be incorporated into the damaged network aimed at its strengthening. Reprogrammed skin or fibroblast cells have been used for these cells. Scientists have found that they are capable of creating young neurons that are transplanted into the brain in order to be connected into a network. Modern methods of research help scientists to prove what molecules these cells express and to trace them into the brain itself.
Medical University-Varna is the leading research centre in the country in the field of neurogenesis, and the holding of this conference has proven once again the high interest of leading European laboratories for cooperation in this field of science, which intrigues scientists worldwide and is the target of a huge number of scientific experiments, being of key importance for basic processes in the human brain such as memory, learning, stress, recovery after damage and evolution in general.